Magic get Gilbert Arenas in banner day
"We needed a little bit more punch," Magic president Otis Smith said. "All those guys coming in have an ability to move the ball. After looking at our team through 25 games, we were missing a little something. I thought change was needed."
The Arenas-Lewis deal doesn't include other pieces. Smith said he's not concerned about Arenas' off-the-court troubles.
"We have a tendency not to forgive people in this country," Smith said. "We have a tendency to hold onto things a little bit longer, particularly if they play professional sports. And I always say that some times good people do stupid things, and that one's right on the top of the list. But I feel comfortable with who he is, knowing him since he was 19 years old."
All of the players involved in Saturday's trades are expected to report to their new teams within 48 hours. The Magic played Saturday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers without Carter, Lewis, Gortat and Pietrus. Likewise, the Wizards didn't have Arenas against Miami.
The overhaul was a major move for a franchise that began the season believing it had all the pieces for its first championship.
Instead, Orlando had lost five of its last six games to drop from first to fourth in the Eastern Conference. The slide was magnified by winning streaks of 11 by Miami and 12 by Boston, a ripple effect that was enough to force Orlando to revamp the roster again with a player looking for a second chance of his own.
"I'm just glad to be back in the playoff hunt," Arenas said. "I've been out of it for a while and just glad to be back in competitive basketball with a group of guys who now hope to win, so it's just great."
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After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in the 2008-09 season, the Magic parted ways with Turkoglu -- a fan favorite who went to Toronto -- and traded with New Jersey to get Carter. The decision turned out to be a disaster; Carter struggled mightily in Orlando's disappointing exit in the East finals last season against Boston.
An early-season skid forced Smith to reverse course.
"I don't think it's admitting a mistake," he said. "I don't regret breaking up the Finals team. I think it was the right decision at the time."
The Magic and Wizards had been discussing a deal involving Arenas off and on since last summer.
Arenas and the Wizards have been open to parting ways since Washington landed point guard John Wall with the No. 1 pick and thereby providing a new face for the franchise.
"We're totally in a rebuild," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. "We've said that. We were in a situation where we had three of our top players play pretty much the same position in John [Wall] and Gilbert and Kirk [Hinrich]."
Arenas was suspended last season for the final 50 games by commissioner David Stern after a locker room incident involving gun play with former teammate Javaris Crittenton came to light last Dec. 23.
While the Wizards were happy to unload Arenas' bad contract for Lewis' slighty-less-bad one, fourth-year Wizards guard Nick Young said Arenas was also in need of a fresh start.
"He's a good dude, a great player, and everything that happened here, it was kind of tough on him, kind of made it hard it on him," Young said. "He didn't know his role and how he was going to fit back in. It came with a lot of difficulties. To see him go back home to get a fresh start and be on a winning team, I know that's something he would enjoy and hopefully he'll continue to do good."
The changes in Phoenix prompted an immediate wave of speculation that the Suns might continue the overhaul by finally starting to field trade proposals for star guard Steve Nash, but Suns owner Robert Sarver moved quickly to dispel that notion.
"This deal has nothing to do with [trading] Nash," Sarver told ESPN.com's Marc Stein via e-mail. "We have no intention to trade him."
The fact that the Suns were forced to give up the popular Richardson for the ability to trade away Turkoglu and his onerous contract is sure to be greeted with disappointed in the locker room, but Phoenix management is clearly hoping that the arrivals of Gortat and Pietrus can provide a much-needed boost of size and defensive toughness.
The acquisition of Turkoglu as a primary replacement for departed free agent Amare Stoudemire clearly wasn't working out for the Suns, who have been more vulnerable defensively and on the glass than they've ever been in their years of small-ball success.
"Everyone wish @jrich23 the best in Orlando," Nash said via his Twitter account Saturday afternoon. "Great player and great teammate! He will be missed. Damn."
The deal was the first significant move pulled off by the Suns' new front office of president Lon Babby and general manager Lance Blanks. The deal addresses Phoenix's glaring weaknesses: a lack of size and poor defense.
Running Out of Juice?
Rashard Lewis is making $19.6 million this season and has two more years left on his deal, but his numbers have steadily declined over the last three seasons.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"Carter and Pietrus give us a great defensive presence on the perimeter and they should be extremely dynamic offensively. And, of course, I think we all recognize that we had a need here for an increased interior presence, size and rebounding," Babby said. "And Gortat is really someone that we've had our eye on since we got here."
The Magic used lucrative pieces to close both deals, including Lewis' contract with 2½ years remaining on the original $118 million for six years. It lines up with Arenas' backloaded contract -- which still has about $60 million left.
Smith has been a close friend and mentor to Arenas going back to their days together at Golden State, when Smith was in the front-office and Arenas was a young player. Smith has said in the past that Arenas' troubles, which, in addition to last year's 50-game suspension, included faking an injury to sit out a preseason game this year, are not a concern.
"This is a new beginning for me," Arenas said late Saturday night in a gray Magic practice T-shirt and black shorts, finishing a workout in the team's practice facility. "This is a true new beginning. Changing my number was a new beginning, but this is a real new beginning with a new city, new people and new team, and I get to start fresh."
Arenas, a three-time All Star, has had several knee problems that limited him to 47 games over the previous three seasons. But while playing alongside -- and often behind -- Wall this season, Arenas has showed flashes of his old self.
He has averaged 17.3 points and 5.6 assists per game this season, including a season-high 31 points in a loss against the Magic on Nov. 27. The Magic have made strong pushes to acquire Denver's Carmelo Anthony and New Orleans' Chris Paul, but with those talks showing little progress, they might be forced to make another move.
"I circled the West Coast trip on our schedule a long time ago," Smith said earlier Saturday. "The West Coast trip, to me, was going to decide whether or not we're going to either fix our woes or continue down the same path. I don't think we've played particularly well leading up to the West Coast trip. So, we were on the West Coast trip and some of our woes continued, so you start to explore opportunities that are out there."
The Arenas trade marks the end of an era for the Wizards, who rode their version of the big three -- Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Arenas -- to a string of playoff appearances before injuries and Arenas' misbehavior sent the franchise into a tailspin. Jamison and Butler were traded last season as the team began a rebuilding movement centered around Wall.
"We were just talking about that, me and JaVale," Young said. "When I came in, we made the playoffs my first year. We had a good team that had been together for a while, and to see it all leave over the years I've been here -- it's crazy."
And now there's no doubt that the Wizards will be led by Wall -- assuming the rookie can get healthy again. He has missed 10 of 25 games this season with various injuries.
"No one's going to ask us whose team it is," Saunders said. "It's his team, and so that comes with a lot of responsibility. The critics who thought that Gilbert would hinder his development, that's not going to be brought up any more."
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher, ESPN.com's Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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